The Brooklyn Nets took on the Cleveland Cavaliers on March 14, looking to end a three-game losing skid. Unfortunately, they did not secure the win as they fell 109-115 to the 4th-seeded Cavaliers. Despite the loss, the Nets trail the New York Knicks by just 2.5 games for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, which would set up a 4/5 matchup between the Nets and Cavaliers. With a potential first-round clash ahead of them, Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie added even more fuel to the fire with a message for Cavaliers All-Star center Jarrett Allen.
“As far as Jarrett Allen, I don’t think anybody in the Brooklyn Nets organization thinks he’s a good rebounder, or is scared of him at all,” Dinwiddie told Lucas Kaplan of NetsDaily at pre-game shootaround on March 21.
Kaplan, however, clarified that Dinwiddie’s comments were more jokes than anything else.
“Okay, he was obviously joking around with an old friend, sorry if people missed that,” Kaplan tweeted on March 21.
With a potential playoff clash waiting in the wings, Nets rising star center Nic Claxton also shared his thoughts on the Cavaliers All-Star center and a potential matchup against him in the first round.
“That’s always a good matchup for me. I’ve been having battles against him since I’ve been in the league,” Allen told reporters on March 21 via NetsDaily. “Practice, training camp, you know? What he does on the court speaks for itself; he’s an elite rim protector and finishes around the rim. I just got to be the best version of myself.”
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Mikal Bridges Speaks Out on Nets’ Inconsistency
Like many of their losses this season, the Nets started strong against the Cavaliers and led 30-23 at the end of the first quarter. However, in the second quarter is where the game began to slip away when they were outscored 38-25 by the Cavs. Nets starter Mikal Bridges knows that if the Nets hope to get back on the winning track, they’ll have to have the “same intensity” for the entire 48 minutes of the game.
“I think just lapses in quarters like the second and third, just getting down, those are tough,” Bridges said after the loss. “I think we’ve just got to come out, you know, whatever quarter it is, and just stay with the same intensity the whole game.”
Nets coach Jacque Vaughn echoed a similar sentiment.
“Tough second quarter for us. … It always seems there’s one quarter that really punches us in the gut a little. So, we’ve got to be able to sustain through all those runs,” Vaughn said postgame.
“We got a little stagnant with the basketball and some of those shots didn’t go in. At the end of the night, we got some quality looks — 9-for-33 from 3 against a team like that, you have to make shots.”
Jacque Vaughn Sounds off on Nets Upcoming Stretch
The playoff race is tighter than ever in the Eastern Conference. Just 4.5 games separate seeds 5-9, meaning a losing streak at this juncture could very well knock a team out of a guaranteed playoff spot and potentially even the play-in.
With just 10 games remaining on the Nets’ schedule, six of their matchups are against teams vying for a playoff spot, making the stakes significantly higher. Coach Vaughn understands that amid Brooklyn’s most important stretch of the season remaining solid is non-negotiable.
“The biggest thing is to show our guys that we’ve done this before,” Vaughn said. “We’ve won on the road, we’ve won versus high-quality teams, we’ve won at home, we’ve won back-to-back, all of the above. We’ve done it, we’ve seen it. So, I think that’s the message for our group is we’re just in a stretch right now where we’ve got to make sure we pull things together, stay together.”